Preventing Heart Disease at Every Age: 20s, 30s, 40s, 50s, 60s, and Beyond

Preventing Heart Disease at Every Age: 20s, 30s, 40s, 50s, 60s, and Beyond

Healthline |
25 March 2017

  • Heart Health at Every Age

    Heart health is important at every age. Whether you are 25 or 65, the choices you make now could affect your health later.

    Celebrate National Heart Month by taking the time to eat well and get active. The American Heart Association (AHA) encourages all age groups to choose foods that are low in saturated and trans fats, cholesterol, sodium, and added sugars and sweeteners. When it comes to exercise, the AHA recommends you aim for 30 minutes of moderate aerobic activity—like walking—at least 5 days per week. Adding muscle-strengthening activities two or more days a week helps too!

    The US Preventative Services Task Force also advises adults over the age of 18 to have their blood pressure screened regularly. If your blood pressure is higher than 135/80, screening for type 2 diabetes is recommended—even if you don’t have symptoms.

  • 20s

    Make the most of your youth by laying the foundation for future health. Your twenties, suggests the AHA, are a great time to:

    • Find a doctor
    • Commit to regular heart-healthy screenings and wellness exams
    • Get active and stay moving
    • Quit smoking and avoid second-hand smoke

    Even if you never touch a cigarette, inhaling second-hand smoke could increase your risk of heart attack and lung cancer by up to 30%, the U.S. Surgeon General warns. 

  • 30s

    Don’t let the pressures of work and family life sideline your health in your thirties. To achieve balance, the AHA encourages people to:

    • Enjoy heart-healthy activities with family, like cooking or fitness
    • Stay off the couch and get active 
    • Develop stress management strategies

    Get to know your family medical history and share it with your doctor. If you have a parent, sibling, or other relative with heart disease, your chances of ticker trouble grow. Focus on managing risk factors that you can control: eat well, stay active, maintain a healthy weight, and avoid smoking.

  • 40s

    It’s never too late to make good choices for your heart. In your 40s, your metabolism starts to slow down, notes the AHA. Avoid weight gain by:

    • Eating a well-balanced diet
    • Getting plenty of exercise
    • Keeping your workouts interesting by taking a fitness class, learning a new sport or activity, or inviting a friend to join you

    If you snore, talk to you doctor about sleep apnea. This condition causes pauses in your breathing while you sleep. Without proper treatment, it could increase your risk of high blood pressure, heart disease, and stroke. 

  • 50s

    Starting in your 50s, take extra steps to protect your heart, the AHA advises:

    • Leave unhealthy eating habits behind you for good
    • Follow your prescribed treatment plan if you have been diagnosed with high blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes, or other conditions
    • Learn the warning signs of heart attack and stroke

    Remember, the symptoms of heart attack and stroke can be different for men and women. Knowing the symptoms will help you prepare for an emergency. If your heart gives out, getting treatment quickly could help you avoid serious disability or even death. 

  • 60s

    As you get older, your chances of developing heart disease increase, warns the AHA. Your blood pressure, cholesterol, and other heart-related measures tend to go up. Keep tabs on your health by:

    • Watching your weight
    • Monitoring changes in your blood pressure, cholesterol, and other heart-related measures
    • Know the symptoms of heart attack and stroke. Some people don’t experience chest pain, numbness, or other well-known warning signs.

    The AHA also recommends people in their 60s get an ankle-brachial index test every one to two years to check for peripheral artery disease, but the USPSTF does not. There are also other cardiovascular screening tests to consider including carotid Doppler ultrasound, cardiac stress tests, and coronary artery calcium assessments. Talk to your doctor to help you decide what’s right for you. 

  • Beyond

    In your golden years, continue to lead a heart-healthy life:

    • Eat a well-balanced diet
    • Get regular exercise
    • Monitor your weight
    • Avoid smoking
    • Visit your doctor for regular check-ups and heart-health screenings
    • Follow your prescribed treatment plans for diagnosed conditions

    Even older adults can benefit from regular aerobic activity and weight training exercises, according to the U.S Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). If you live with a disability or chronic illness, ask your doctor to help you develop a safe workout plan. You may not be able to meet all of the CDC’s fitness recommendations. But even a little exercise may be better than none.

  • Commit to heart healthy changes today

    You are never too young—or too old—to take steps to prevent heart disease. By developing heart-healthy habits, you may be able to extend the length and quality of your life. With National Heart Month in full swing, now is the perfect time to start. It’s easier than you think!